By Roger Wolkoff
Do you have a natural gift to start a conversation? Many of us in the hospitality and customer service world are quite adept at it. Think about this for a moment. How good are you at ending conversations? I’ll wager you have a signature opening greeting, but do you have a signature closing?
In customer service and hospitality, we devote time to make an excellent first impression. We make eye contact, smile, or lean in if we’re next to the person. Then, we move on to the heart of the conversation. Our guest or customer may request service, or they need help to resolve an issue. Perhaps they want a recommendation from us.
Finally, we arrive at the end of the conversation. Now what?
Picture this. You’re at your favorite coffee shop or restaurant. You place your order, and you engage in polite banter (the start of a conversation) with Anita, your server. Anita gets your food. You pay with a credit card, and she hands you your card and the credit slip. What comes next? Well, sometimes there’s silence. Or she might say, “sign here” or the overused “I need your John Hancock.” When she asks for “a signature,” you quip back like I do “Anyone’s signature or mine?” It never gets old, trust me.
So, imagine my surprise when I heard, “Finish this for me, please ” from my favorite barista, Marrisa, on a recent trip to my favorite java joint. I thought what a memorable and unique way to ask for a signature and close out a transaction. Marissa offered a kind, polite, and unique way to put a meaningful touch to an ordinary interaction. It was memorable. It left me with a good feeling.
Isn’t that what you want to leave your guests and customers with, a good feeling? In an industry where I would argue it’s important to be memorable, how should we close our conversations? Yes, “thank you,” “please come again.” and “have a nice day” are helpful and necessary. But are they memorable? They are table stakes when it comes to service industry conversation closers.
Keep the UMPS method in mind when you want to change things up:
Unique – Think of a phrase or word your customers haven’t heard before, yet still sounds like you.
Memorable – What will leave a lasting impression (in a good way!) after your guest or customer leaves you? How would you like them to feel? Motivated? Energized? Peaceful? Find words that match the emotion you’re going for.
Positive – Are your words and intent positive? Are you ending on an upbeat note?
Simple – The more straightforward your message, the better.
“Let me know if there is anything else I can do to help you.”
“Make it a magical day!” (thank you, Disney!).
How would you rewrite your closing? “I’m glad you’re staying with us.”
In a world of texting and posting, it’s refreshing to have positive human interaction. There was a time when we didn’t have emojis to express how we felt. The next time you’re closing out a conversation with someone, think about the emoji you would leave them with and find a way to express it in words.
Have a fantastic day!